Want to hear some corny ERP industry jokes? No, yes? Well here they come, what does selecting an implementation partner and marriage have in common? It’s for the long haul and if you choose the wrong partner it can cost you a lot of time and money. How about tandem parachuting and implementation partners? If your partner has no idea what he is doing, no matter how good the view is at the start, sooner or later they come crashing down on top of you.
Seriously, though selecting an implementation partner is a very important decision even if you already have an idea of which product best suites your organisation. Organisations rarely change ERP systems often, and as such are paired with an implementation partner for a much longer period than just the 6 – 18 months it takes to get the system online. This article looks at the most common mistakes organisation make when selecting an implementation partner.
Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid Consider When Selecting an Implementation Partner
1. Deciding Based on Price
As the age old saying goes “You get what you pay for,” however with implementation partners this is not always the case. Basing your decision to go with an implementation partner merely based on price is not recommended.
It is instead recommended that you use a more comprehensive selection checklist, taking into account the factors mentioned in the above section as well.
The cheapest partner may be cutting the services out in order to discount their prices, however if the services taken out can be handled by your organisation it may not be that bad. On the other hand, the most expensive partners may be inflating their service costs without adding any tangible or meaningful improvement for your organisation, so blindly going with the most expensive option may not be the best option either.
In the end the best partner is the one that fits your requirements on service and price the best, more often than not though be prepared to negotiate and compromise if you are financially constraint.
2. Falling for the Bait and Switch
An industry practise that is commonly used, but frowned upon is the use of the implementation team bait and switch. This is where in an attempt to woe your organisation, a potential implementation partner will put forward their best team to latter have them fully resourced or unavailable, leaving you with in the best case scenario the second best team available.
Unfortunately, this practise is not something that can easily be avoided because there are legitimate reasons why a team proposed for an implementation may not be available once the implementation begins, due to timing and or other resourcing issues. However, the negative impact of such situations can be mitigated by being more diligent in your selection of an implementation partner.
If an implementation partner’s organisation is professional, adheres to a robust, scalable and tested methodology and has plenty of product experience, then it is reasonable to expect that the standard of all their teams and consultants should not vary significantly. However, if there are clearly super stars within the partner’s business and there is no consistency in their methodology and resourcing then you could be in a lot of pain if the bait and switch is used on you.
In the end, you are not just paying for the individuals that work for the implementation partner but the implementation partner’s entire business, so you need to be comfortable with how they operate as a whole
3. Not Being Clear about Requirements and Business Objectives
This is one of the most important mistakes to avoid. There is no sense in looking for an implementation partner without having a criteria set out to benchmark implementation partners against. Otherwise, what standard are you basing your choice against.
Things that should you may consider as part of your criteria are:
- Expertise and Experience
- Industry Relevant References
- Implementation Methodology
- Research and Development Plans
- Number of available resources for implementation project
- Ongoing support capability
4. Not Doing any of Your Own Research on a Product
Surprisingly there are some organisations that still select a product without understanding the basic features and functions of the product or the other products on the market that have similar features and functions. It is advised that before looking at which implementation partner to use, that an organisation have a clear understanding of the product that they want to implement and the logical business reasons as to why they want to implement this product.
This serves many purposes, but for the activity of selecting a suitable implementation partner it mitigates the risk of potential partners taking advantage of your lack of knowledge and exaggerating or omitting facts in order to win your business.
5. Not Checking References
Admittedly, references provided by the implementation partners are going to be from clients where they believed they performed the best, I mean who gives a bad reference during a job interview. Taking this perspective though, you can gauge from past client what the implementation partner was like to work with on their best behaviour and pinpoint what their weaknesses are. What I mean by this is if you target your questions around what challenges the client had when implementing the solution was, how did the partner handle it and what if anything they would have done differently, you might be able to draw some of the things the partner struggled with even when they were at the top of their game.
Another important tip about references is to understand how recent the implementation was, how similar it was in size, complexity, industry and requirements to you. As a general tip, the closer the fit and the more recent the reference the more indicative it may be.
ERP Systems are significant investments, Why not Consult the Experts
As you can see selecting the right implementation partner depends on a lot of variables. Therefore, it may be of benefit to talk with independent consultants to assist you with deciding if a new ERP strategy is for you and if so what ERP system would best meet the needs of your organisation and finally to assist you with keeping the implementation of the new ERP system on track.
Want to know more…
Director – Solution Minds
Mob: +61 400 729 559